This month’s blog is by Cat Zavis, the Executive Director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives and the Co-Editor of Tikkun magazine. She is also a rabbinic student in the Aleph: Alliance for Jewish Renewal rabbinic ordination program.
I see my work aligned with all four of Rabbi Sid’s propositions in his lead essay for Jewish Megatrends and, venture to say that, if we want to reach younger Jews, we need to integrate our work in all four areas. The magic and wisdom of our tradition is that it integrates all four areas in a comprehensive and cohesive whole. It challenges us to go beyond merely reducing the suffering of others and calls us to build a society and world that actually is inherently loving and just itself. It is an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, pro-environment, pro-love, pro-caring, and pro-justice message—a message we’d be wise to listen to today.
Here then are some ways that our work aligns with each of the principles:
Chochma/Wisdom: We promote the deepening of Jewish wisdom, both on our Tikkun website (www.tikkun.org) and in our magazine with articles on “Jewish wisdom” as well as many others that are interdisciplinary. In the trainings in Prophetic Empathy and Revolutionary Love (www.spiritualprogressives.org/training) that I lead, I draw deeply on Jewish teachings as well as on the teachings that are shared by all faith and spiritual traditions. I draw on this wisdom to help guide how and what I teach, how we interact with each other and what kind of spiritual activist movement we are building. This includes,how we talk about, understand, and challenge the systems and structures of oppression and power in our society and how we talk about those who have a different worldview or understanding than we do.
Tzedek/Social Justice: We promote social justice in everything we do. My trainings are all about how we can build a spiritually progressive social change movement that truly embodies the values of the world we want. In addition, we participate in social justice protests, actions, NS campaigns. Many of the articles on our website and in our magazine tackle the pressing social justice needs and issues of our time. By drawing on spiritual teachings and traditions, we often bring a unique perspective and voice to these discussions.
Kehilla/Community: We have a Tikkun/NSP community. We work to build a beloved community. In past years we have had very active and large chapters in many cities around the country. For various reasons those chapters are not as active or prevalent as they once were. We’ve learned a lot about what is required to keep a chapter active and engaged. With proper staffing, we hope to strengthen them over time. We know that in our trainings, we create a deeply connected, spiritually grounded, and meaningful community where people feel held, heard, seen, and connected with each other.
Kedusha/Holiness: Our efforts to bring holiness and meaning into the world are actually the foundation of our work, at both the magazine and in the activism work that we do. We share with our community and, more widely, ways to make gatherings and events integrate and incorporate holiness, prayer, meaning, and celebration. Because our work increasingly goes beyond just the Jewish community (our work is interfaith and secular-humanist as well), we encourage people to create rituals which may be similar to certain rituals in the Jewish tradition but that are more universal. For example, we have shared ways for groups to hold yearly gatherings where people get together and tell about their liberation struggles, their successes and challenges, honoring local activists and others who have been involved in these efforts, and offering ways to support one another.
Cat Zavis is the Executive Director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives and the Co-Editor of Tikkun magazine. She is also a rabbinic student in the Aleph: Alliance for Jewish Renewal rabbinic ordination program.